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How should I deal with my daughter?

Q: My 12-year-old daughter has become a brat. She is extremely bright, but chooses not to use her brains in the correct manner. She is flunking school, and she says she cares about being flunked, but does not show it. We have taken everything out of her room except the necessities, i.e., bed, blankets, lamp, alarm clock, clothes and pillows. She has not watched television in a month, and we barely let her listen to a radio or CD or watch movies. We do not let her visit friends, and do not allow her to make phone calls, play video games or use the computer. She has been working on cleaning her room for two weeks now, and hardly does anything; just sits and looks at stuff on her floor. I refuse to spank her for her behaviour. I know that I have spoiled her, but I don't think I could have turned her into being so careless. She hardly ever showers, combs her hair or brushes her teeth, and lies when asked. Her dad and I split up when she was 2.5 years old, but both of us have been involved in her life. She lives with me and sees her dad during weekends and usually once or twice a week for a couple of hours. Her dad has a girlfriend, who lives with him, and I have a boyfriend, who lives with me. We put her in the navy cadets to see if that would help, but it has not. She never turns her school work in, let alone do any of the work, never has homework, so she says. When she was in the second grade, she was diagnosed with ADHD, and this is the first year she has not been on medication. But we had the same problems when she was in the fifth grade and sixth grade. We have threatened to take her to the local juvenile centre so that she can see what kids with bad behaviour get into, but I am not sure that it would help. Other people say that she is very nice and polite. Kindly advise how to deal with my daughter.

A:I find the tone of your letter, when referring to your daughter, quite hostile. How did you let it come to this? Your severe treatment of her seems to have alienated her further. Instead of giving her a scare by showing her a Juvenile Home, you should take her to the School Counsellor and get her situation attended to. Every experience of the past, plus her own disposition, adds up to her confused state of mind. She should not be spanked of course, as it would be humiliating for her and would achieve nothing. Discuss the matter with her teachers and put some warmth and feeling into the question of bringing her back to herself. Please realise that she is unhappy and is trying to draw your attention to her. Dismissing her as a brat is not going to make it easier for your relationship with her. If it is possible, she should see a Child Psychiatrist, along with both her biological parents.

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